Has It Been 30 Years

On Monday morning April 12, 2021, nearly 50 former students and faculty members joined virtually from around the world to hear George Coombs, Humanities teacher, long-time faculty advisor to the Student Senate, Opera Club advisor, and long-serving Board Member of the HK Chapter Alumni Association look back on his 30-year career at HKIS. Thanks to alumna host journalist Natasha Khan ‘03 for moderating this lovely event!

George came to Hong Kong in the late 1970s at the urging of his friend and priest from his home state of Pennsylvania, and taught at Maryknoll Convent School for nearly 10 years before joining HKIS in 1989, the same year that the new high school in Tai Tam opened. Due to construction delays and a late summer typhoon, the campus did not open until October which required the high school students to alternate going to school three days per week, including Saturdays. George wryly observed that his first year started in a usual way, just like his last year will end, marked by rotating schedules. Though the virtual learning and Zoom classes are a new addition, thanks to the pandemic!

The idea of a true “retirement” does not sit well with George: He feels the call for something more.

Reflecting on his years at HKIS, George remarked: “The most exciting career opportunity is owed to Jim Handrich and the starting of the Humanities Department at HKIS....Jim was the organizer and proponent of Humanities interdisciplinary education...he knocked down the walls of religion and social studies and brought the English department downstairs with us in Humanities. It was a great leap forward for us and the interdisciplinary learning and the Humanities approach.” Other highlights include favorite classes Humanities I and Humanities II, which, with its focus on the West, he liked to call, “From Plato to NATO.”

The idea of a true “retirement” does not sit well with George: He feels the call for something more. He will use his newfound freedom to continue studying at the California Institute of Integral Studies in an online PhD program in Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness. “Boy, how Coombsian is that!” said one alum over Zoom.

We wish George all the best in this next chapter and know we’ll see him around at concerts, plays, events at HKIS and with the alumni community. Bye George, and thanks for your dedicated service and commitment to HKIS, your students and the alumni community!

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